Tuesday, 23 December 2008

It's my last day now until Friday 2nd January so the blog will go quiet for a few days while I unwind, relax, recharge and get ready for yet another brilliant year here in Leeds...

I hope everyone out there manages to do the same. And remember when you are out there... think team, think family, think about the things that really, really matter and hold hands and stick together.
Take care.
Chris

Monday, 22 December 2008

I wanted to write at the end of another amazing year to thank colleagues for all your hard work and to encourage you to celebrate our many achievements over Christmas and the New Year. These are not mediocre times and your contribution to the Education Leeds story has been one of passion, commitment, energy, courage and hard work and I am really grateful because the impact has been fantastic.

We have had another incredible year… as well as delivering the last two PFI buildings, we have seen the opening of the first three new BSF buildings at Allerton High School, Pudsey Grangefield School and Rodillian School, with Allerton High School being officially opened by the Prime Minister. We have also had notification from the DCSF that our Primary Capital Programme proposals have been agreed with some minor amendments, which means that we can start work on an ambitious programme of work that will deliver another £100 million capital investment across the city. Our continuing success has been recognised through our nomination for the Carl Bertlesmann Prize, the extension of our Beacon Status for healthy schools, the Leeds Transformational Project celebrating the bicentenary of the abolition of the slave trade which secured £450,000 of lottery funding and the success of our ‘Find Your Talent’ bid, which has secured around £2.5 million of lottery funding.

We launched our emotional health and wellbeing toolkit, and our Investors in Pupils programme has moved to a national roll out. We are continuing to develop our sustainable schools programme and held our first Leeds schools green day. We achieved and exceeded our 2007-08 PE and school sport targets, launched our "Happy Healthy Active Lunchtimes" initiative, and established ‘Spirit Alive’ as our response to the 2012 Olympic Games in London.
We were the first authority in the region to gain re-accreditation of our Inclusion Chartermark, and our visually impaired service achieved Quality Mark as well as successfully tendering and winning the contract to develop a visually impaired service for British services abroad. We also developed, organised and successfully delivered the first national Gypsy, Roma and Travellers History month and poster competition and more recently we won two of the national BSF Excellence Awards for the ‘BEST LEP’ and ‘Innovation in ICT’.

The STEPS programme continues to develop with more and more targeted parents and carers benefiting from the programme, and 39 clusters of schools and partners are working towards delivering the core offer of extended services; which has been commended by the DCSF for good progress. We have received recognition from the House of Lords for our work with International New Arrivals as well as recognition from Ofsted through one of their thematic surveys which identified good practice on social responsibility and community cohesion. Our Chinese Supplementary Schools have also been recognised as providers of excellent practice by the House of Lords. Many more of our services have achieved Chartermark and the company was the first to achieve the cabinet office’s Customer Service Excellence standard. We have achieved our best ever GCSE results; fantastic results at 5 A*-C, 5 A*-C including English and mathematics, 5 A*-G and 1A*-G , and our feedback from the Audit Commission survey gave us the best satisfaction rating we have ever had from our schools.

Finally, we held our first ever 'Spirit Awards' at Elland Road on Friday night to recognise the brilliant achievements of our colleagues. Thank you to everyone who attended, well done to everyone who was nominated and to those who made it into the top three, and congratulations to the winners: Ann Lomas, the BSF team, the Operations service, the Health initiatives team, Kaya Barker, Eve McLeish and the VI team, Peter Saunders and Sally Bavage - you really are fantastic, wonderful, brilliant and talented colleagues, and now you have the awards to prove it!

Thanks to everyone for your persistence and determination to make a difference. Our brilliant schools, and our fantastic children and young people, have achieved more than ever thanks to the energy, patience, and commitment of the many talented teams working so hard across the city. Together, here in Leeds, we have made a tremendous difference and we must continue to find, nurture and release the magic. We must continue to celebrate our schools’ successes, and work to create an even better tomorrow for all our children and young people.

I hope that this Christmas brings you and those you love… delight and simplicity, foolishness and fantasy and noise, angels and miracles and wonder and innocence and magic… we have certainly proved this year that you are talented, brilliant, gorgeous and wonderful!
Best wishes
Chris

Friday, 19 December 2008

This evening I attended the Education Leeds Christmas Party at Leeds United's Banqueting Suite...

It was great to see so many colleagues and to see them having a really good time. The food was good, the band were really good and the team had worked really hard to bring a sparkle at the venue and to make the party go brilliantly. We also used the occasion to announce the winners of the first 'Spirit Awards' recognising brilliant colleagues and teams in the eight categories. And the winners were:

CATEGORY: Putting customers first:
WINNER: Dev Phull and the Operations service.

CATEGORY: Looking after Leeds
WINNER: Eve McLeish and the VI team.

CATEGORY: Health and Wellbeing:
WINNER: The Health Initiatives team,

CATEGORY: Personal Achievement:
WINNER: Kaya Barker,

CATEGORY: Leader of the Year:
WINNER: Anne Lomas,

CATEGORY: Treating people fairly:
WINNER: Peter Saunders,

CATEGORY: Colleague of the year:
WINNER: Sally Bavage.

CATEGORY: Team of the year:
WINNER: The BSF team,

These are some amazing colleagues and teams who have achieved great things this year and it was brilliant to see their work recognised like this
Chris

I went to Rawdon St Peter's CE Primary School first thing this morning...

I went to see Caroline Sibson who was appointed to the headteacher post after holding the fort over the last couple of years. Caroline is clearly doing a really good job with her talented, brilliant, gorgeous and wonderful team. They treated me to a special assembly featuring their unique, brilliant and very powerful presentation of the Eva Schloss story which they performed at the Stephen Lawrence Education Standard Celebration earlier this term. The child who danced the role of Eva was incredible; dancing with such emotion and feeling. Then, Year 5 and 6 also sang one of the Christmas songs they had performed at the Church last night, which was great.

Rawdon St Peter's CE Primary School is a great little school and it is releasing a very special magic this Christmas for some fantastic children. I was even given one of their special teddies to take away so I wouldn't forget them.

It was a really wonderful end to yet another brilliant term here in Leeds.
Chris

Thursday, 18 December 2008

My colleague David Bateson sent me this final e-mail...

"Hi Chris just and end of phase update I am retiring today after 38 years within Education Leeds/Leeds City Council and want to share another set of successes from my TEAM and from participants on the NATIONAL PROGRAMME for Specialist LEADERS of Behaviour and Attendance before the end of today. Seven MORE STAFF have successfully completed the NPSLBA programme five from the BESD SILC an two from the high school settings and the numbers will go from strength to strength in 2009 when there will be another 30+ on the programme. The permanent exclusion figures are on target with ONLY 11 confirmed this term. ALL the team are working hard with our partners to support as many pupils as possible within the school setting and reduce the fixed term exclusions across the city. Cheers David"

David and colleagues in the Pupil Placement Team have worked magic and I know that we will miss David's passion, commitment, enthusiasm and belief.
Chris
I visited Garforth Green Lane Primary School this afternoon...

I went to see Tammie Prince the new headteacher and Tammie showed me around the school and introduced me to some of her team and some of her wonderful children. I also met Nicola Davies, the Year 3 Coordinator for Modern Foreign Languages, who was recently awarded MFL Teacher of the Year.

It was great to visit this little school and meet some talented colleagues who are releasing magic with some amazing children.
Chris
I moved on to the Blenheim Christmas Fuddle...

I wanted to be there to thank everyone after another great year and as I looked around the room I realised that I was in the presence of some incredibly talented and effective colleagues whose work in almost every area is simply outstanding. This group of colleagues work with some of our most special children and they are magic!
Chris
I attended the Merrion Christmas Fuddle today...

I wanted to be there to thank everyone after another great year and as I looked around the room I realised that I was in the presence of some incredibly talented and effective colleagues whose work in almost every area is simply outstanding. They really are a unique and very special group of colleagues.
Chris
I moved on to the Gypsy, Roma, Traveller and Ethnic Minority Achievement Team's Away Day at Weetwood Hall...

Rehana Minhas had asked me to go to talk to the new team after my colleague Dirk Gilleard. It was great to be with a group of colleagues who have had such a brilliant year and achieved so much.
Chris
I started the day at one of my favourite schools...

I visited Quarry Mount Primary School to see Jackie Twaites, headteacher, and we walked around the school. I picked up breakfast and met some of the team and some of the children and it was really encouraging to see the school doing so well.

It was great to visit this little school and meet some talented colleagues who are releasing magic with some amazing children.
Chris

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

I attended a Christmas production at Templenewsam Halton Primary School this evening...

'The Peace Child' was a simply amazing production for a primary school. Two hundred children backed up by a stunning support team have clearly worked incredibly hard to deliver a performance packed with music, song, dance and drama. The choreography was wonderful, the dancing was stunningly beautiful, the choir were fabulous and the actors certainly had the X factor!.

This is certainly an outstanding school, brilliantly led and everyone in the packed hall had a fantastic time watching some incredibly talented, brilliant, gorgeous and wonderful children. These children supported by Kay Crellin and her amazing team delivered an evening of real magic which I won't forget in a very long time.
Chris

'Spirit Awards'

The judging panel met yesterday afternoon to run through the selection process for all 'Spirit Awards' nominations. Over three hours were spent analysing the forms and now the final results are here. The three finalists (per category) for the Spirit Awards 2008 are:-

Putting customers first:
  • Operations service, part of Information Management team (managed by Dev Phull);
  • Jason Tattersall, and
  • Mari Connolly.
Looking after Leeds:
  • Eve McLeish and VI team,
  • Christine Halsall, and
  • Carl Whalley.
Health and Wellbeing:
  • Rosemary Molinari,
  • Health Initiatives team, and
  • Health and Safety team.
Personal Achievement:
  • Kaya Barker,
  • Stephanie Rayford, and
  • Vanessa Murphy
Leader of the year:
  • Heather Eyre,
  • Anne Lomas, and
  • Alex Macleod.
Treating people fairly:
  • Hannah Oldfield,
  • Peter Saunders, and
  • Pauline Rosenthal.

Team of the year:

  • Secondary School Improvement Advisors,
  • BSF team, and
  • Pay & Grading team.
Colleague of the year:
  • Stephanie Rayford,
  • Jayne Sloan, and
  • Sally Bavage.

Amazing colleagues and teams who have achieved great things this year.

Be at the Education Leeds party on Friday night to find out who has won each of these fantastic awards.

Chris

My colleague Michael Rossiter sent me some brilliant news...

"Dear Chris, Thought that you might like to see this Ofsted report. You said last time that sometimes you miss out on the 'loop' and don't get to hear some news. Well Chris, we have just had our 2nd Outstanding in all areas Ofsted report and I can't tell you how delighted I am for all at Woodlesford Primary. My staff work incredibly hard and we achieve so much in so many different areas of school life. We are probably the best known Leeds School in terms of sporting excellence and we are spreading the word internationally too having just received the 'International School Award' in London. I admire much of your efforts to raise the bar for many of my colleagues and I do believe in your sincerity too about empowering people to 'spread the word'. That was my last Ofsted I would imagine as I am 62 now and almost in my dotage, but never once in my teaching career have I resented the time spent in this profession. Many of my colleagues here share the same passion, and although it does become a load too much at times, the end results-the smiles, the pride and the spirit shown make it worth while. I do feel that schools like ours never receive the 'praise' from Education Leeds that we should, I don't know why, because we also have problem children and families, outside pressures etc. to deal with. I know that you indeed do spend time and thought sharing your beliefs, and have 'kept the faith'. I'm proud to be head-teacher of this wonderful school and all associated with it. Anyway time to go as I'm playing 'Brucie' in the Staff Panto and can't be late. AM I DODDERY? DODDERY I'M NOT! All the best, happy christmas and thanks. Michael"

Woodlesford Primary School is an outstanding school and I am delighted for Michael and his brilliant team.
Chris
I started the day at Allerton Bywater Primary School...

I haven't been for a while and I wanted to go to thank Margaret Moyles, our consultant headteacher, who has been doing a brilliant job since the school was placed in Special Measures by our friends at OFSTED. I also wanted to thank the staff team who are really making a difference in this great little school.

I arrived to see the fantastic breakfast club which was buzzing and then I was taken into the hall for the first Wake Up and Shake Up of the day... this is a school that takes things seriously and does Wake Up and Shake Up twice a day! The session was fabulous and the children, supported by students from Brigshaw High School, had a really energetic and enthusiastic work out.

I had a quick walk around the school and met some of the team. The building is bright and attractive, the learning environment is brilliant and the children are great. This isn't a school in Special Measures anymore; it's somewhere with real potential where Margaret and her team are releasing a very special magic.
Chris
If like me you weren't nominated for a Spirit Award this year not to worry...

You can still come to the party on Friday and forget about OFSTED, National Strategies, EYFS, DCSF, CVA, APA and unwind for a brilliant Christmas. It's only £10 for the best night of the year!

I hope to see you there.
Chris
I heard about this new scheme yesterday at the Healthy Leeds launch...

The DCSF and the Department of Health want to encourage us all to eat well, move more and live longer. Which is where Change4Life comes in. It aims to help families and it’s really important to our childrens' futures. But apparently it’s also going to be fun! As the movement starts to grow, there will be plenty of brilliant things to get involved in and we are being encouraged to badge up our programmes as Change4Life. The programme will include local events and activities, magazines and tasty recipe ideas, amongst many other things. You can find out more and register at http://www.nhs.uk/Change4Life.
Chris

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

My colleague Vanessa Huws Jones, Primary School Improvement Partner Coordinator/Adviser sent me this really wonderful piece of writing...

" I wanted a perfect ending.
Now I've learned, the hard way, that some poems don't rhyme, and some stories don't have a clear beginning, middle and end.
Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what's going to happen next.
Delicious ambiguity. "
Gilda Radner, 1946-1989


That line 'Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what's going to happen next' is simply brilliant and captures for me the way I face the future. Thanks Vanessa.
Chris
I started the day at Parklands Girls High School...

I was there to see Helen Lane, headteacher, and to talkk about the progress the school was making. It was encouraging to see the real focus Helen has brought to the school around achieving the National Challenge targets next Summer with Year 11. Helen also asked me to briefly meet her team at briefing to wish them all a Happy Christmas and thank them all for their hard work this term.
Chris

Monday, 15 December 2008

And finally, I attended the Hunslet Hawks Learning Centre 'Playing for Success Celebration Evening' at the John Charles Centre for Sport...

It was a fantastic evening celebrating children from Middleton St Philips, Middleton St Mary's, Clapgate, Low Road and Windmill Primary Schools. The Parkside Suite was packed with young people and their parents, carers and teachers.
Chris
I then moved on to the East SILC for a production of 'Santa Who?' performed by children and colleagues from the Oakwood Pupil Support Centre...

The young people aided by Dr Who performed a story which took us from Christmas in Bethlehem to Chistmas on the trenches in World War One to Christmas in the Future and back again in search of Santa. It was a fabulous celebration of what these children can achieve when given the opportunity and brilliantly supported by colleagues and young people from 2Engage.
Chris
I moved on to the VI team Christmas party at Keirkstall St Stephen's Church Hall...

It was wonderful to see the team with their precious children and their parents, carers and brothers and sisters playing together and celebrating Christmas and another brilliant year.
Chris
I was delighted to see that Whitkirk Primary School won the YEP Xmas Carol Factor...
Congratulations to the brilliant choir and to their fantastic teacher Catherine Sunderland who produced their winning entry 'Journey to Bethlehem'.
Chris


I started the day at the launch of the Physical Activity Strategy...

Active Leeds : A Healthy City 2008 - 2012 sets out to address the challenges we face here in Leds with ensuring that everyone has a healthy and active lifestyle... important because it is the key to maintaining and improving our health and well-being. The Strategy looks at four aspects:
  • Active Living;
  • Active Travel;
  • Active Recreation;
  • Active Sport.

We need to carefully consider the Chief Medical Officer's recommendations that children should be active for 6o minutes every day and adults should be active for 30 minutes five days a week. Clearly we need to do more because there is a frightening increse in the number of overweight and obsese children as we move through the primary years. In reception 20% are overweight and 9% are obese. By the end of Year 6 the figures have increased so that 33% are overweight and 18% are obese. We also know that once a child moves into adulthood it is very very difficult to get out of the cycle of being overweight. So we need to look carefully at how we can ansure that every child does 60 minutes of moderate activity everyday with at least twice a week this inclding activities to improve bone health, muscle strength and flexibility. We also need to ensure that most of us engage in 30 minutes of moderate physical activity most days of the week.

Chris

Saturday, 13 December 2008

I attended the Elmete Christmas Fuddle yesterday...

I wanted to be there to thank everyone after another great year and as I looked around the room I realised that I was in the presence of some incredibly talented and effective colleagues whose work in almost every area is simply outstanding.

We were also treated to a short concert by children from Oakwood Primary School. They were led by Becky Ingram and they were brilliant.
Chris
I started the day, yesterday, at the launch of the 'Free School Meals Toolkit' at South Leeds Stadium...

This is the latest piece of the Leeds School Meals Strategy complementing the work that Rosie Molinari and her colleagues are doing to drive improvements in this key area. We have already launched the 'Leeds School Meals Strategy', the 'Leeds Packed Lunch Policy Guidelines' and now we are working to increase the uptake of free school meals.

We have around 17500 children eligible for free school meals and around a quarter of these fail to take up their entitlement. As always this toolkit is another brilliant piece of work based on strong research evidence and customer engagement and involvement working with colleagues from Leeds Metropolitan University.
Chris

Friday, 12 December 2008

Nina Jonsson, Deputy Headteacher at Nya Elementar in Stockholm sent me this after the visits we orgainsed for her team here in Leeds...

"Hi Allyn and Chris, Hope everything is fine with you!
Last Monday the teachers who visited Leeds in November presented their trip to the rest of the staff at school. From their presentation I can tell that they were very pleased with the school visits. They all came back to Stockholm with energy and new ideas. They were particularly impressed by Rodillian High School and their fantastic new school building. They also told me that both schools gave them such a great welcome and that they were treated like royalties:-)

Once again a huge thank you for organising the school visits. Make sure Morley and Rodillian know how extremely pleased my staff, including myself, are with the school visits. I have e-mailed Michael Cornfoot at Morley several times but according to my teachers, who spoke to him in November, he hadn't received my e-mails. Can you help me to get in touch with him somehow? We were talking about starting links between our schools and I would like to
talk to him about that. Finally, have a great Christmas! Regards, Nina."

It is wonderful to have colleagues from Stockholm over here to see the magic.

Chris


Thursday, 11 December 2008

This evening I visited Cockburn Community College to attend the official opening of their new Phase One building and the Gala Performance of Jesus Christ Superstar...

The new building is brilliant...



The amazing performance of Jesus Christ Superstar showed once again what young people in South Leeds can do. Jesus was well cast, Mary had a great voice and Herod brought the house down. The stage and setting were great, the choreography was really good, the chorus and band were wonderful.
Cockburn is a great school achieving great things with some incredible young people.
Chris
I visited Corpus Christi Catholic Primary School after lunch...

It was great to spend some time with Wendy Walsh, headteacher, who is working really hard to build brilliant at this school.
Chris
I started the day at the Civic Hall being filmed for the Tackling Poverty Beacon Presentation...

It was another opportunity to talk about the work we are doing with young people through Aimhigher and with parents and carers through the STEPS programme. Lets hope that we get Beacon Status to recognise this brilliant work.
Chris
I finished the day yesterday at Space@Hillcrest for another Playing for Success celebration evening this time linked to the BBC Media Centre at Primrose High School...

It was another sell-out with the hall at Hillcrest packed with young people and their parents, carers and friends. The enthusiasm, passion and commitment of the PfS and Media Centre teams was wonderful and I was really pleased that we were able to celebrate the achievements of children from some great schools, the contribution made by some fantastic learning mentors and the sponsors who support the provision.
Chris

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

My colleague Richard Irvine, our Data & Information Services Manager, sent me some more good news today...

"Dear Chris, Just a brief note to let you know, that, despite our ambitious expression of interest in Phase 3 Funding that took us well beyond our allocation threshold, BECTA/ DCSF have reviewed our response and have agreed to support this initiative in full across all of our targeted groups. The value of funding allocated will be £347,000. This capital funding should clear on 15 December. This is yet another display of confidence by the DCSF in our ability to manage transformational ICT programmes which have a direct benefit on children, young people and families across Leeds. Thanks to all involved who supported this bid! I will be in touch shortly to draw up plans for this phase. Kind Regards Richard."

This is brilliant news and means that more of our most special young people will have access to ICT at home to enable and support their learning.

Great work by a great team!
Chris
I have just received this e-mail from my colleague Wayne Davies at Crawshaw School...

"Hiya Chris, Just returned from London. Unfortunately we didn't get into the top 3. It was a fantastic experience for students & teachers alike. Our team are still winners and, though disappointed with not winning the competition outright, can be exceptionally proud of their achievements and did a magnificent job in representing Crawshaw, Leeds & Yorkshire & Humberside. Thankyou for your support. The judges were impressed that we'd got the Chief Exec on board! Cheers Wayne."

I was delighted to write supporting Jessica, Bethany, Francesca, Abbie and Ryan whose “X BAND Your Future” initiative is a brilliantly creative response to some of the biggest challenges we face with our young people.

Their “X BAND Your Future” initiative aims to get young people to develop respect, equality, friendship, inspiration and sport through their schools, youth clubs and in the community. The challenges would encourage our young people to help their community, to get new friends, to build intergenerational friendships and to get fit. The scheme presents us with a really fantastic opportunity to make Leeds a better place for young people but also has the added incentive that someone will get the opportunity to attend the Olympics and the Paralympics with two friends and to stay at a top London hotel!

Even though they didn't win at the national awards, this is a winning initiative from a team of winners whose ideas clearly are helping to build the future… a brighter better future for all young people here in Leeds.
Chris
My colleague Maggie Hartley, Extended Schools & Services Cluster Coordinator for Beeston Hill & Holbeck, needs our help...

"Oh Chris – I’m so glad you enjoyed the Town Hall Concert – I was at home poorly and very fed up because I couldn’t go and see the results of the efforts to get the Sing Leeds South Choir there but hey – such is life!!! Everyone said they were wonderful and I’ve been told that the concert was the best ever! What I’d LOVE to achieve in 2009 is keeping the Sing Leeds South choir running!! The highest costs are in the transport. Without the transport the choir won’t have a Cross-Cluster Community Cohesion impact so would lose its purpose. Artforms have agreed to pay for the choir leaders but we need some BRIGHT IDEAS about finding funding for the transport – have you got any of those bright ideas? I do hope so?!! Luv Maggie."

Does anyone know a sponsor, a company, a partner who could help Maggie and this brilliant little choir?
Chris
I moved on to Allerton High School for the Education Leeds Board Meeting...


Elaine Silson, headteacher, showed us around her brilliant new building where she and her colleagues are releasing a very special magic. It has been an interesting term for the school what with moving in to their new building, an OFSTED inspection and an official opening by the Prime Minister. The team certainly deserve their Christmas holidays!
Chris
I started the day at Wetherby High School...

Andrea Barnes, headteacher, had asked to see me to talk about the ongoing consultation on educational provision in East and North East Leeds which we are carrying out for the Council's Executive Board. It was great to be able to discuss the challenges we are facing and the opportunities this presents us with in both East Leeds and the North East of Leeds. We all want to build awesome, inspirational provision at the heart of these communities delivering brilliant outcomes for young people, their families and these communities. What an opportunity we have and what strong foundations we have to build upon.
Chris

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Investors in Pupils in the Guardian

My colleague Hannah Lamplugh , Participation Officer and Investors in Pupils Co-ordinator in the Leeds Healthy Schools team sent me this...

"Hi Chris, This article has already caused quite a stir this week. Following on from a request to introduce the award in Sweden from the company that has the swedish licence for Investors in People, we have received requests for information from several schools outside West Yorkshire and a 'community interest company' in Thames Valley.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2008/dec/02/counsultation-student-views-schools-dialogue/print. I will keep you updated. Many thanks, Hannah."

It is great to see that people are picking up on the brilliant 'Investors in Pupils' programme.
Chris
I received this from my colleague Stephen Archer headteacher at Gledhow Primary School...

"Hi Chris, We received many 'pats on the back' for remaining open at Gledhow last week. It was great to see the children enjoying the deepest snow they had experienced and staff, parents and children making the effort to be here. I've just read your blog and thought I'd send you a couple of the many delightful images we have.Stephen"





It's wonderful to hear about schools that stayed open and made the best of a snowy morning.
Chris
I started the day at Middleton Primary School...

I arrived for breakfast and it was buzzing with a military operation providing breakfast for hordes of children and parents and carers. The coffee and toasted teacake was fantastic and it is wonderful to see the impact this incredible pre-school breakfast club is having.



I had been invited by Sam Williams, the headteacher, to visit the Cooking Bus which is visiting Middleton Primary School this week. The school has been selected as one of the 180 flagship schools to become a national leader for quality school food and food education. The schools were chosen by the Food for Life Partnership (FFLP) and the initiative is funded by the Big Lottery Well-being Programme. The school is aiming to achieve FFLP Gold Mark.

I was invited to a cooking session where we cooked Butternut Basil Bread and Blue Cheese and Pear Salad... recipes available on request! To find out more about this brilliant programme you can visit http://www.focusonfood.org/home.html. Why not request a cooking bus visit to your place.
Chris

Monday, 8 December 2008

This evening I attended the Playing for Success Celebration Evening at Leeds United Learning Zone...

The evening celebrated a twelve week programme involving young people from three high schools; Cockburn Community College, Farnley Park High School and South Leeds High School, three primary schools; Castleton Primary School, Cottingley Primary School, Middleton Primary School and the South SILC. It was a brilliant evening and the Lorimer Suite was packed with young people and their parents, carers and teachers.
Chris
My colleague Ken Campbell our Stepping Stones Manager gave me a copy of his new publication ' Reaching Higher for Young People Looked After', The Stepping Stones Fellowship...

The publication makes it clear that "good parents encourage their children to succeed, support their aspirations and help them to plan for their futures. A local authority must do likewise for children and young people in its care."

The Stepping Stones Fellowship brings together a range of partners with the aims of awakening and raising aspirations, raising achievement, widening participation and creating opportunities for the future. The support of the University of Leeds and Leeds Metropolitan University is critical to the success of the Fellowship which is also supported by Stepping Stones, The Frank Buttle Trust, Leeds City Council, Aimhigher, Leeds Mentoring and our FAST team.

Ken and his colleagues are making sure that together these powerful partnerships will change and secure the life chances for all our children and young people looked after by the Council.
Chris
I popped in to Elmete first thing this morning and once again realised what a fantastic group of colleagues are based there and that I don't get there often enough...

One of my New Year resolutions will have to be about getting to Blenheim, Elmete and West Park more often so I can tell colleagues what a great job they are doing, take the temperature and pick things up. I also need to attend more team meetings to listen to colleagues and talk about their challenges and the opportunities to continue to build brilliant.
Chris
My colleague David Price, Project Leader, Learning Futures Initiative at the Paul Hamlyn Foundation sent me this...

"Dear Colleague, The project team for Learning Futures would like to draw your attention to the call for applications to become a Learn Futures Field Trial Site. The project is aimed at secondary schools who will work together in clusters to develop next practice pedagogy, based upon the principles originally outlined in the 'Learning Futures: Next Practice in Teaching and Learning which is available for download from http://www.phf.org.uk/landing.asp?id=368.
Since the initial scoping phase we've been heartened by the level of interest shown in the project, across the education community in this country, and even internationally. It encourages us to think that the timing and ambition of the project is right.
The PHF Trustees, and our partners at the Innovation Unit, are committed to breaking new ground through Learning Futures, and if you'd like to join us we look forward to receiving your application.
Finally, allow me to draw your attention to two important diary dates:
• Four regional seminars will be held to support those considering applying, from Jan 22nd – Jan 28th;
• The deadline for this single-stage application process is March 2nd 2009
If you have any queries, please contact info@learningfutures.org, or call 0207 227 3500
Best wishes,David Price, OBE."

David led the successful 'Musical Futures' initiative that many Leeds schools were involved with and I hope that colleagues will jump at the chance to be inviolved with Learning Futures.
Chris

Saturday, 6 December 2008

I received some more great news after our portfolio of evidence for Level 4 of the Equality Standard was re-assessed...

"It is evident that significant progress has been made and Level 4 of the Equality Standard has been achieved by Education Leeds. There are a number of areas of strength in all areas of the portfolio – the commentary and evidence provided is very good."

CONGRATULATIONS to everyone for another brilliant achievement.
What a TEAM!
Chris

Friday, 5 December 2008

This afternoon I visited Crossley Street Primary School in Wetherby...

I had been invited by Sandra Clynes, headteacher, at this great little school to see their new classrooms. I was visiting on their Open Day which was also their Christmas Fair and when I arrived everyone was busily setting up for the Christmas Fair at the end of the school day.

Sandra Showed me around and took me to see the four new classrooms which are fantastic; large, bright, colourful and full of magic! It is a real transformation and the only thing left now is to get rid of those terrible temporary classrooms and landscape the grounds. We have transformed Crossley Street since I started here in Leeds and it is simply remarkable what has been achieved. It goes to prove what you can do with persistence, determination and hard work.
Chris
I started the day at Weetwood Hall with Leadership Forum...

We were there to look at the opportunities and the challenges we face and how we further develop our services and support for schools, children and young people, families and communities. It was an opportunity to look at the unique, innovative, creative and very special culture we have built, the way we thread that culture through the beautiful systems that underpin our practice and how we coach and lead as learners.

It is great to spend some time with Leadership Forum and to remember what we have achieved in the last year. Education Leeds is a unique and special organisation with strong and highly effective leadership, an inclusive and enabling ‘can do’ culture and a passion, energy, enthusiasm and commitment to serve the children, young people and families here in Leeds. The company has had another great year and consistently delivered outstanding services to schools, Children’s Services and the Council.

As well as delivering the last two PFI buildings we have seen the opening of the first three new BSF buildings at Allerton High School, Pudsey Grangefield School and Rodillian School, with Allerton High School being officially opened by the Prime Minister. We have also had notification from the DCSF that our Primary Capital Programme proposals have been agreed with some minor amendments which means that we can start work on an ambitious programme of work that will deliver another £100 million capital investment across the city. Our continuing success has been recognised through our nomination for the Carl Bertlesmann Prize, the extension of our Beacon Status for Healthy Schools, the Leeds Transformational Project celebrating the bi-centenary of the abolition of the slave trade which secured £450,000 of Lottery funding, the success of our ‘Find Your Talent’ bid which has secured around £2.5 million of Lottery funding.

We launched our Emotional Health and Well Being Toolkit and our Investors in Pupils programme has moved to a national roll out. We are continuing to develop our Sustainable Schools programme and held our first Leeds Schools Green Day. We achieved and exceeded our 2007-08 PE and School Sport targets, launched our “Happy Healthy Active Lunchtimes” initiative, launched our Time to Play toolkit and established ‘Spirit Alive’ as our response to the 2012 Olympic Games in London.

We were the first authority in the Region to gain re-accreditation of our Inclusion Chartermark and our Visually Impaired Service achieved Quality Mark as well as successfully tendering and winning the contract to develop a visually impaired service for British Services Abroad. We also developed, organised and successfully delivered the first national Gypsy, Roma and Travellers History month and Poster Competition and more recently we won two of the national BSF Excellence Awards for the ‘BEST LEP’ and ‘Innovation in ICT’.

The STEPS programme continues to develop with more and more targeted parents and carers benefiting from the programme and 39 clusters of schools and partners are working towards delivering the core offer of extended services; which has been commended by the DCSF for good progress. We have received recognition from House of Lords for our work with International New Arrivals as well as recognition from OFSTED through one of their thematic survey which identified good practice on Social Responsibility and Community Cohesion. Many more of our services have achieved Chartermark and the company was the first to achieve the Cabinet Office’s Customer Service Excellence standard. We have achieved our best ever GCSE results; fantastic results at 5 A*-C, 5 A*-C including English and mathematics, 5 A*-G and 1A*-G and our feedback from the Audit Commission survey which gave us the best satisfaction rating we have ever had from our schools.

As I said... never forget that you are simply brilliant!
Chris
I received these great photos of Farsley Farfield Primary School in the snow yesterday....

Isn't it wonderful to see to see the joy on these childrens faces and to remember that a snowy day can be a brilliant way to learn rather than an excuse to stay in bed .
Any more photos gratefully recieved.
Chris

I met with the PE and School Sport Co-ordinators from our Specialist Sports Colleges yesterday...

Charlie Pyatt, Brychan Jones, Trudi Hannaford and Richard Chattoe managed to find the time to come with my colleague Helen Plimmer, our Adviser for PE, to talk about their successes to date and how we can continue to drive this vitally importanat work across the city. Sadly Shaun Mulhern couldn't make the meeting but his colleagues covered brilliantly.

The impact and progress with PE and School Sport is another one of our success stories over the last couple of years with around 92% of our young people now accessing two hours of high quality PE and School Sport every week. I am amazed at the fantastic progress we have made and the real excellence developing across the city.

We need to continue to develop a strategic framework to build on this success and ensure that every young person in Leeds has coaching, provision and pathways to activities, to success and to excellence.
Chris

Thursday, 4 December 2008

I moved on to the sixth Annual Leeds Peace Poetry Competition at the Civic Hall...


This year the theme was 'Picture Peace' and the evening involved readings of the ten finalists from each of the three age groupings - primary school children, secondary school students and adults. The YEP Award was presented by Peter Lazenby. The Leeds Trinity Award was presented by Dr Paul Hardwick. The overall Leeds Peace Poetry Awards were presented by Kei Miller. Musical interludes were provided by Kamaljeet Ajimal and the wonderful Silver Sparrows.
Chris
Late this afternoon I attended the Leeds Mentoring Celebration of Success at the Civic Hall...

This year there have been 4220 mentoring partnerships here in Leeds and the evening provided us with another wonderful opportunity to listen to young people's stories of success encouraged and supported by brilliant mentors. The awards were presented by John Townsley, headteacher at Morley High School, by the Lord Mayor of Leeds and by Cllr Stewart Golton, Lead Member for Children's Services.

Andrew Edwards from BBC Radio Leeds interviewed some of the award winners on the themes of awareness, aspiration and achievement and Bex Wilson, a trainee primary teacher, talked about her 'Hip Hop Summer School' with some of her students. A fantastic evening was had by all.

Thanks to Barry Hilton and the talented Leeds Mentoring team who are making such an incredible difference across the city.
Chris
The damage was that 123 schools were closed across Leeds including 25 secondary schools...

I was told that the problem was that buses couldn't get out of the bus depot because of the snow and ice, side roads on the estates were tretcherous and staff couldn't get into schools from their homes. Difficult to understand it really since I had made it from North of York and by 10.30 the snow and ice was rapidly disappearing.
Chris
I started the day early at the David Young Community Academy...

I had travelled there from York through the snow for a breakfast meeting with the Seacroft and Manston Family of Schools headteachers. Sadly none of them managed to make it and all the schools were closed for the day because of the snow and the transport problems. So the team who had made it to David Young and I shared the hot bacon rolls and the coffee before I set off for Merrion House to survey the damage.
Chris
My colleagues sent me some fabulous photos of the official opening of Allerton High School by the Prime Minister...






It is a wonderful set of memories of a great day for everyone involved with Allerton High School.
Chris
My colleague, Ken Campbell our Stepping Stones Programme Manager, sent me this wonderful piece of news about Dinneka Smillie...

"Hi Chris, Dinneka is being interviewed by the Guardian newspaper today on the basis of her winning the Aimhigher national award. I will be with Dinneka as the interview is by telephone. The completed report will appear in the regular 'College Voices' item and will be written by Janet Murray. Dinneka is now 18 and no longer in care. Ken."

Dinneka will go far!

Chris



Wednesday, 3 December 2008

I started the day at Boston Spa School...

It was really encouraging to spend time with Chris Walsh, headteacher, to walk around the school listening to 1800 young people at work and to meet, talk and listen to some of those fantastic young people.

This is very clearly a school going places in terms of its leadership, its culture and ethos and its standards, which have improved dramatically over the last couple of years. The school is working hard to develop 'student voice' from a traditional School Council approach picking up and developing their work with Investors in Pupils and the ideas they have taken from 11 Million Takeover Day. The challenge we all face is building brilliant and ensuring that all our young learners take responsibility for their own learning, set their own goals and are coached for excellence. It is encouraging to talk to Chris and his students about their commitment, passion and belief in Boston Spa School as a Centre of Excellence for School Sport and PE and for learning.
Chris
My colleague Ros Vahey sent me this e-mail after the Common Purpose 'Your Turn' event...

"Dear Chris, Year 9s from Lawnswood, City of Leeds, Crawshaw and Abbey Grange participated in ‘Your Turn’, a 3 day Common Purpose programme which finished this week. These young people – especially Ben from Crawshaw, Nicola from Abbey Grange and Joe from Lawnswood - stole the show with their leadership skills. They participated on Monday in a ‘Dragons Den’ which meant they were working on real challenges in the city – including how do we make KS3 so exciting that everyone attends school 100%! They developed a ‘pitch’ and won! Some great examples of team working, presentational skills, creativity and determination. How would Gordon Brown like to give the 2.5% reduction in VAT to education so the young people can redesign curriculum delivery, assessment, reward systems and design the school day! Ros."

Your Turn is a brilliant programme and it is great to see our young people putting the educational world to right.

Chris

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

This evening I went to the Leeds Schools Music Association Christmas Festival Concert at the Town Hall and it was brilliant...

Around 450 fantastic children and young people entertained a packed house at the Town Hall. The Schools Festival Choir was made up of children from 43 primary schools and the Sing Leeds South Choir was made up of children from nine primary schools in Hunslet, Belle Isle, Beeston Hill and Holbeck. The concert also included performances by the Leeds Youth Brass Band, the Leeds Schools Choir, the Leeds Youth Choir and the Staff Choir. My favourites were 'O Holy Night' sang by a soloist from Opera North and the Staff Choir, 'Raggle Taggle Three Wise Men' sung by the Schools Festival Choir and everyone singing 'Do They Know It's Christmas'.

What a great evening. When Artforms music team does singing it is simply incredible and this evening we saw a great team release a very special magic from some wonderful young people.
Chris

Monday, 1 December 2008

The YEP's Xmas Factor!

It's that time again and twenty-one schools from across the city have taken up the challenge...

From today videos of the schools go on-line at www.yorkshireeveningpost.co.uk You simply visit the site and click on the Xmas Carol Factor button, watch the videos and vote for your favourite.
Chris

Saturday, 29 November 2008

MORE STARS!

My colleague Carole Leeming sent me this e-mail...

"Dear Chris, Today the STARS Autism Outreach Service was given feedback from a two-day review of its work by the National Autistic Society. This is a fantastic service, doing a great job in a very complex area of work. Can I invite you to experience the work of the team at first hand? We look forward to seeing you. Best wishes, Carole."

Since 2005 the STARS Service has developed as an all-age autism outreach service, encompassing SILC teachers who were working less formally on outreach. There are four teachers who are seconded to the STARS Service for a number of days each week. It is an important aspect of the Service that staff are practising professionals. In addition, there are three teaching assistants who are employed full-time. The service supports the parents and schools of children and young people with a diagnosis of autism.

STARS was accredited by the National Autistic Society in November 2007 and was reviewed by a team of three during Thursday, 27 and Friday 28 November 2008. The review team examined practice in four areas:
· Transition
· Referral to the Service
· Partnership with Professionals and Parents/ Carers
· Teaching/ Learning: Curriculum

Feedack from the Review Team has been fantastic and the following areas were highlighted as good practice
  • An ethos of enabling is very obvious and strong and constitutes good practice;
  • The Team’s practice in supporting parents through its “Stay and Play” sessions is exemplary;
  • The collaborative working with the library service to provide Boardmaker software in 15 libraries and a monthly drop-in session for parents and professionals is good practice.

The Review Team also said that this is an outreach service that other outreach services should come to see and that the self-evaluation against the NAS Standards is a beautiful piece of work.
Carole is right, this is a fantastic service, doing a great job in a very complex area of work and I look forward to seeing their work when I visit them after Christmas.

Chris
My colleague Heather Scott, Deputy Headteacher at Allerton High Business & Enterprise Specialist School sent me this e-mail after yesterday...

"Hi Chris, Thanks so much for being there yesterday - we had a great day! We loved the way that Gordon Brown interacted with the kids, and was much warmer and friendlier than his regular image - we also loved the way he sat on the yellow cubes in our PSE breakout space, and asked the students about their OCR National in Health & Social Care. The most fantastic bit for me and you can bet it will be in our next prospectus! was when he said: "I wanted to come here.. to congratulate everyone who is associated with this great new school. It's the most open, the most colourful and the most innovative school I have seen in many, many years... I believe it will be a model for other schools around the country for years to come." Please can you find time to thank everyone involved with the BSF programme for all their input to our "great new school", as this is very much a team product. See also attached link to YEP, who created a video version of the visit at http://www.yorkshireeveningpost.co.uk/news/Brown-opens-39model39-Leeds-school.4743494.jp-.


Best wishes.
Heather
My colleague Heather Scott, Deputy Headteacher at Allerton High Business & Enterprise Specialist School sent me this e-mail after their incredible day yesterday...

"Hi Chris, Thanks so much for being there yesterday - we had a great day! We loved the way that Gordon Brown interacted with the kids, and was much warmer and friendlier than his regular image - we also loved the way he sat on the yellow cubes in our PSE breakout space, and asked the students about their OCR National in Health & Social Care. The most fantastic bit for me and you can bet it will be in our next prospectus! was when he said: "I wanted to come here.. to congratulate everyone who is associated with this great new school. It's the most open, the most colourful and the most innovative school I have seen in many, many years... I believe it will be a model for other schools around the country for years to come." Please can you find time to thank everyone involved with the BSF programme for all their input to our "great new school", as this is very much a team product. See also attached link to YEP, who created a video version of the visit at http://www.yorkshireeveningpost.co.uk/news/Brown-opens-39model39-Leeds-school.4743494.jp-.Best wishes, Heather."

It was a fantastic day for all of us and I am so proud of everyone who has played a part in making Allerton High School such a brilliant success story.
Chris
I went on to the 'Meet The Cabinet' session at Savile Hall near the Royal Armouries...

Around 200 people from businesses, councils, health authorities and the voluntary and community sector from across Yorkshire and the Humber had been invited to the event where we had the chance to quiz Gordon Brown and his cabinet. The audience also included thirty young people from the Leeds Youth Council, the Youth Parliament and our young Anti-Bullying Ambassadors.

Senior ministers sat around tables discussing a range of topics, including the economy, education, housing and climate change. I was lucky enough to sit with Ed Balls, Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families.

We also had the chance to direct questions to the Prime Minister, with topics raised including climate change, problems with the construction industry and the effect of the credit crunch on small businesses. The best question came from one of our young people from the Leeds Youth Council who received warm applause when she addressed the Prime Minister and told him: "Young people get a bad press. People should know that most young people do good things", particularly here in Leeds.

These young people are our future and it was great to talk to them after the event. We all need to show them more respect and listen to their ideas and solutions to the challenges we face.
Chris
Having one of our new school buildings opened by the Prime Minister was fantastic but to have two opened by two different Prime Ministers is simply amazing...
Gordon Brown and Ed Balls talk to pupils at Allerton High School in Leeds, 28 November 2008; PA Copyright
Gordon Brown officially opened the brilliant new Allerton High School building yesterday. He was accompanied by Ed Balls, Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families. The Prime Minister and Ed Balls were greeted by head teacher Elaine Silson and the head boy and girl of the school, before the Prime Minister cut the ribbon to open the wonderful new building described by the Prime Minister as a model for the future.
“This school is conceived as a 21st century school, one that will lift the ambitions and aspirations of young people in this area…I believe it will be a model for other schools around the country in years to come.”

Thi is another new high and, after our success at the BSF Awards, I hope colleagues will be even more proud of what they have achieved with this brilliant new building.
Chris

Thursday, 27 November 2008

This evening I attended the 'Global Citizens for Peace' event at the Civic Hall...

"Never doubt that a small group of
committed people can change the world.
Indeed, it's the only thing that ever does."

Education Leeds and Together for Peace have been working in partnership with PeaceJam since 2006 an this year 50 young people and colleagues from Abbey Grange, Brigshaw, Garforth, Intake, Prince Henry's and South Leeds High Schools attended an international symposium for Youth and Peace in Los Angeles with seven international Nobel Peace Laureates including Desmond Tutu.

Over the last seven wonderful years here in Leeds we have transformed learning in our schools and built brilliant learning places. What PeaceJam shows is that together, if we believe it, we can change the world.
Chris
For the past few years the Guild of Foodwriters has run CookIt! - a successful cookery competition for children aged between 10 and 14.Last year for the first time the Guild added to this a food writing competition for those aged between 15 and 18: CookIt-WriteIt! ...

Once again entries are invited for the Guild of Food Writer’s annual CookIt! and WriteIt! competitions from children and students between 10 and 18 years of age. These hotly contested competitions are a great way of encouraging the younger generation to have a greater interest in good food, something the members of the Guild of Food Writers feel passionate about. The CookIt! competition is open to all young cooks aged between 10 and 14 years of age. The theme for 2009 is ‘High Five!’ and entrants are asked to create a delicious two-course family meal using five or more different fruit and vegetables. The importance of eating fruit and vegetables is well known, but the judges will be looking for entrants that can really show just how delicious they are too! The six finalists will be invited to London, with all expenses paid, on Thursday 4 June 2009, where in the kitchens of the BBC Good Food Magazine, they will prepare their meals for a panel of judges including Xanthe Clay (Saturday Telegraph and author of Recipes to Know by Heart) and Mike Robinson (of The Pot Kiln in Berkshire). There will be some great prizes to be won and the final will also feature in a future edition of BBC Good Food Magazine. Closing date for entries is Thursday 23 April 2009. For more details on the competition visit: www.gfw.co.uk/children/?sub=62.

For food writers of the future the WriteIt! competition is a must! Open to students aged between 15 and 18 years of age, the competition invites articles on a food related subject. The judging panel includes respected food writer and critic, Charles Campion, broadcaster and restaurateur, Thomasina Miers and Alex James, formerly of Blur and now a successful cheese maker and food columnist. The judges will be looking for a real passion and understanding of the chosen subject, whatever that might be! It could be as simple as a description of a person or place that inspired an interest in food and cooking or a review of a restaurant or a campaigning article on a food-related subject. There will be some great prizes to be won. Closing date for entries is Tuesday 3 February. For more details on the competition visit: www.gfw.co.uk/children/?sub=61.

Why not encourage your young talented chefs and writers to enter?
Chris
I started the day having breakfast at Elland Road...

My colleague Chris Halsall had invited me to speak at the start of a conference for primary headteachers called 'Making Learning Irresistible - Curriculum Innovation in Primary Schools'.
The conference featured Gareth Mills from QCA talking about the Primary Curriculum Review and workshops sessions on 'a curriculum that matters' by colleagues from Morley Victoria Primary School, 'engaging pupils and parents in learning through learning logs' by colleagues from Pudsey Primrose Hill Primary School, 'developing enterprise across the curriculum' by colleagues from Hunslet Moor Primary School and 'innovation through ICT' by colleagues from Robin Hood Primary School.

Interestingly there is so much great stuff going on that we could have run brilliant workshops featuring innovative and creative practice from schools across Leeds for the next few weeks. The challenge we face is how do we share and disseminate all the good things that are happening across the city to enable us to continue to build outstanding provision and deliver world class outcomes for all our children and young people.
Chris

WE WON!... MORE AWARDS... BRILLIANT!

Leeds’ Building Schools for the Future (BSF) programme has won two of the first national annual awards to celebrate the transformation of education across the country...

The prestigious Excellence in BSF National Awards were announced in London with Leeds competing against 19 other local authorities from across England. The successful authorities were selected by judges from the design community, construction industry, educationalists, students and BSF delivery partners.

We won the two categories I wanted us to win:

  • INNOVATION IN ICT;
  • BEST OPERATIONAL LEP.
FANTASTIC... WHAT A BRILLIANT OUTCOME!
CONGRATULATIONS TO EVERYONE IN OUR AMAZING BSF TEAM WHO ARE SIMPLY THE BEST!

And to cap it all the awards are silver stars!
Chris

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

I received a gentle rebuke from my colleague Maggie Hartley who is Extended Schools & Services Cluster Coordinator for Beeston Hill & Holbeck...

"Dear Chris - I'm sorry that I wasn't able to say this yesterday but our server was down! - Thank you so much for coming to the concert on Monday - fitting it into your busy schedule - we really appreciated your support. I'm even more sorry that I implied that the concert "started your Monday" - I know that you probably had at least three other engagements first and I'm sorry that I didn't say that at the time! SORRY!!!

I must admit I was a little disappointed when reading your Blog - really excited to begin with but then felt that the children and their staff were a bit hard done-to!! I know ---- ten compliments NEVER outweigh one criticism as it's the criticism that the reader remembers!!
Please remember that:- The group was originally set up to improve community cohesion across LS10 and LS11 and includes several children with Statements for their behaviour as well as learning needs. Some of them had been unable to even stand in a line for more than a few minutes when they first started practicing so the fact that they were able to remain in the group and sing is real progress! One little girl with VERY special needs was standing on the front row, sang EVERY word and didn’t lose concentration at all - she brings £1 EVERY week to pay because she loves it SO much and she doesn’t want it to finish!! Through no fault of their own, the children arrived with no time to spare for a "Mental Build-up" with the choir leaders (who they only meet once a week as they are from 11 different schools).

If you set endorphins flowing in a group of challenging children then excitement and talkativeness is likely to ensue - ESPECIALLY if the choir leader hasn't given them their "pep-talk" to start with! The children and their staff have been giving up their time freely from 3.15 to 4.45pm on a Tuesday since half term to learn these songs - as they aren't from one school where they can practice together they have to concentrate hard for that time to get it right and their attendance has been exceptional. Yes I agree that some of them could have been more attentive but from where I was sitting I could see all their faces and I think I might have been more inclined to tell them that they were FABULOUS - and that they will be EVEN MORE fabulous when they remember to stand still and silently. Sally spoke to them in this way after the performance and that made them think about their behaviour – they were mostly wonderful during their final yesterday evening!!

Having watched Jean and Roy mould this group of over 120 children with the undivided support of the 15 or 16 staff who attend every week AND seen the progress that they have made in such a short time, I am exceedingly impressed and was not disappointed with them - nothing that a "nagging" from Jean and Roy won't cure!!! The children plan to surprise you on Tuesday so BE PREPARED to be amazed!!! Thanks again for attending. Maggie"

Maggie's right of course, negative coaching never works. As I said in the original message the choir was in so many ways fabulous!
Chris
I moved on again to Allerton Grange School...

I was going to see the new headteacher, Rick Whittaker, who is working with his team to prepare to move into their fantastic new Building Schools for the Future building which will open next September. Rick tells me that it is a bigger version of the wonderful Allerton High building so it will be worth waiting for! It was great to listen to Rick and to walk aroung the school and see the real potential which will move into the new building.
Chris
I moved on to Ralph Thoresby High School...

I had gone to see Stuart Hemingway, headteacher, and his brilliant new school. Stuart is so passionate about the school and the opportunities the wonderful building provides for his young people and this community. It was great to walk around the school with Stuart and see some of his young people.
Chris
I started the day at Lawnswood School...

Colleagues at Lawnswood have had a great year and I was visiting to see some of the things Milan Davidovich, headteacher, was proudest of. I met the Senior Leadership Team, the School Council, had a guided tour with two young members of the School Council, met a young man on the ASDAN programme, talked to a sixth form philosophy group, met colleagues and young people involved with health initiatives in the school and watched the Rock Challenge DVD. It was a whistlestop tour and a brilliant start to the day with some wonderful young people, some talented colleagues and more importantly it showed Lawnswood at it's very best!
Chris

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

I attended session at the Carnegie Stadium today looking at young people's perceptions of leadership and management in Children's Services...

The 'Children and Young People Leadership and Management Project' is a research event run by the Carnegie Leaders in Learning Partnership working with the Children's Workforce Development Council. Young people from Freeston Business and Enterprise College in Wakefield were the young researchers leading the project which is one of five projects being sponsored by CWDC across the country.

Freeston's mission is 'Making a Difference' and if Natalie, Jacob, Vanessa, Gemma, Amber, Joel, Edward, Marina, Aiden and Leanne are anything to go by this is a great school doing brilliant work.
Chris
My colleague Ken Campbell our Stepping Stones Programme Manager sent me this e-mail...

"Hi Chris, Our recent newsletter has attracted interest from a number of local authorities. The demand for our DVD has been such that we have put it on Youtube. http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=nimnahE7xWA
Best wishes Ken."

This is s agreat DVD celebrating some incredible work and fronted by a brilliant young woman who will go far!
Chris

GREAT NEWS!

I thought you'd like to know that Penny Fields won the public vote last night for the £50,000 People's Millions fund! Thanks to everyone who voted!
Chris

Monday, 24 November 2008

My colleague Eddie Colquhoun who works in the Attendance Strategy team sent me a copy of his latest liitle book, 'You're Never Too Old To Be Young Again!' and it's a brilliant read...

"Believe in the best, think your best, study your best, have a goal for your best, never be satisfied with less than your best, and in the long run things will turn out for the best."

Henry Ford

This is a collection of stories, pearls of wisdom, great advice, fabulous quotes and would make a great Christmas present. Sections on have a mid-life adventure!, if you don't know where you are going any road will take you there!, laugh and the world laughs with you, you could be a priceless antique, be a risk taker!, and the best is yet to come are wonderful antidotes to the usual miserable stuff in the papers and on the news.

The epilogue of this little book says " I am told that we laugh a staggering three times less than we did in the 1950's. Remember, fundamentally, we don't need to be happy to laugh, but we can laugh to be happy. If laughter is the best medicine isn't it about time we all introduced it again to every area of our everyday lives? Let's bring celebration back into every moment of our lives!"

Thanks Eddie and Judy for a great read which made me laugh, smile and occasionally weep.
Chris
I finished the day at the 'Talking Leeds Talking Success' event at The Met Hotel...

Charlee Bewsher, Programme Co-ordinator at the Project, had invited me to the event that celebrated and recognised the success of children and young people in Leeds. It also saw the launch of the new Children Leeds DVD. It was a mixture of performances, speeches and recognition and included some real magic from some really talented young people... Sukbir Kaur performance poet, Ingi Hughs, singer and guitarist and Jeremy Davidson, dancer and singer.

This small celebration of our young people needs to be further developed next year when we should take over the Town Hall and really celebrate the talents and magic of our incredible young people here in Leeds.
Chris
I visited Windmill Primary School this morning to listen to the Sing Leeds South choir which draws children from nine primary schools in LS10 and LS11...

I had been invited by Maggie Hartley, Extended Schools and Services Cluster Co-ordinator, and Salena Riley, Cluster Co-ordinator LS10XS Extended Services who wanted me to see the wonderful work going on in the cluster. It is always wonderful to visit Windmill Primary School... whatever the reason and for those of us who could see it, there was lots of magic which we can build on. Magic, captured in the faces of some of the children who were, for moments, lost in their singing and transported somewhere wonderful. Singing releases endorphins that make you feel happier and brighter and more effective and great singing requires discipline, listening skills, teamwork and practice, practice, practice. Sally Sumpner's children were a credit to her and her team as they listened and applauded every song. From small acorns oak trees grow and while there is more to do with the choir there is real potential here and in so many ways they were fabulous.

I am sure that, with even more practice, discipline, focus and hard work, the choir will be even more brilliant when they sing at the Leeds Schools Christmas Concert at the Town Hall on Tuesday next week.
Chris

Vote Today! 08716 268171

To win £50,000 of Big Lottery money, Penny Field Specialist Inclusive Learning Centre will compete in ITV’s Big Lottery Fund, People’s Millions 2008 TODAY... Monday 24th November... and they need your vote... The telephone number you need to vote is 08716 268171 (10p per vote). Penny Field will feature on Calendar Evening News at 6.00pm this evening, but you can vote from 9.00am and any telephone can be used up to 10 times to vote. Please make sure you help by voting.
Chris
It has been another really wonderful week...

I attended the Leeds Young People's Positive Achievement Awards at the Royal Armouries, gave and received awards at the Big STEPS Celebration at the Civic Hall, and spoke at the ADCS, Aspect and RM's Building Schools for the Future Visioning event in Stratford-upon-Avon. I was also proud to be with our fantastic anti-bullying ambassadors at the citywide Anti-Bullying Week event when they learned they were to receive the Diana Anti-Bullying Award later this year in London. I had breakfast with the Morley FOS headteachers, attended another wonderful staff induction session at Derek Fatchett CLC and yet another fantastic STEPS celebration at Hollybush Primary School before finishing the week with lunch with the amazing Dinneka Smillie, our AimHigher Young Sixth Form Learner of the Year. I also managed to get to St Peter's CofE Primary School to see Liz Holliday and her team who are releasing the magic at the heart of Leeds.

I was really pleased and surprised to win the Keith Jackson award this week, but unless I am mistaken most of us will miss out on life's really big and important prizes. I know that I am never going to be Prime Minister, win the FA Cup, win a Pulitzer Prize or win a Nobel Prize and I am unlikely to win X Factor or Strictly Come Dancing, win the lottery, win an Oscar or get a Knighthood. But I do recognise how incredibly lucky I am because I know that I am eligible for life's small pleasures; small pleasures that are worth so much...

A thank you after I've done something really well. A touch or a word when I am feeling down or things haven't worked out well. A kiss or a cuddle from a friend. A starry night. A full moon. An empty parking space. A beautiful smile. A crackling fire. A great meal. A glorious sunset. Hot soup. Freshly baked bread. Cold beer. Chocolate. Great coffee. Why don't you add to my list?

Don't be upset when life's big awards and rewards don't come your way. Enjoy its small and wonderful delights and pleasures. There are plenty of those for all of us and we can help each other share them.

And talking about helping others, today Penny Field Specialist Inclusive Learning Centre will compete in ITV’s Big Lottery Fund, People’s Millions 2008, and they need your vote! Penny Field will feature on Calendar Evening News at 6.00pm this evening, but you can vote from 9.00am on 0871 626 8171 and any telephone can be used up to 10 times to vote. Please make sure you help our most special children by voting.
Chris
It is brilliant news that a group of dedicated young people from Leeds are to receive a prestigious national award for their commitment to tackling bullying...

All 14 of the city’s original Anti-Bullying Ambassadors from four schools will receive the Diana Anti-Bullying Award at a special ceremony in London later this year. The Diana Awards, established in 1999 in honour of Princess Diana, are presented to young people who work to improve the lives of others. This recognises the brilliant work that Hilary Farmery and colleagues have been doing with 'The Power of Me' initiative which is simply brilliant!
Chris

Sunday, 23 November 2008

It's great to read in Christine Gilbert's HMCI Annual Report that about one in six schools are now rated as outstanding and another half are good, leaving about a third as satisfactory and only one in twenty unsatisfactory...

However reading the recent coverage you would think that everything was failing; too much dull teaching, concerns over CRB checks, too big a gap between rich and poor and we are failing our children!

From where I stand things are getting better all the time and, although I recognise that we can do even better than this, isn't it time for a little praise for our wonderful schools, where some talented, brilliant, gorgeous and wonderful colleagues are releasing the magic day-in day-out and making suich an incredible difference here in Leeds.
Chris

Saturday, 22 November 2008

Yesterday Dirk, Ros and I had lunch with Dinneka Smillie...


Regular blog readers will know that Dinneka won the 6th Form Aimhigher Learner category for the 2008 National Aimhigher Awards. Dinneka was with her mentor, Andrew Edwards, host of BBC Radio Leeds 'Breakfast Show' and her tutor from Notre Dame College where she is doing her A Levels. Ken Campbell and Julie Pocklington from our brilliant Stepping Stones team within AimHigher also came.

Dinneka is a wonderful young woman; a brilliant advert for the City of Leeds, mentoring, AimHigher and the work we are all doing to promote and develop our fantastic young people... She is simply magic!

Chris

Friday, 21 November 2008

The latest Her Majesty's Chief Inspector's Report highlights the following outstanding schools here in Leeds..

  • Beeston Hill St Luke's Church of England Primary School
  • Meanwood Church of England Primary School
  • Morley Victoria Primary School
  • Notre Dame Catholic Sixth Form College
  • Our Lady of Good Counsel Catholic Primary School
  • Roundhay School Technology College
  • St Benedict's Catholic Primary School
  • St Chad's Church of England Primary School
  • St Edward's Catholic Primary School, Boston Spa
  • St Urban's Catholic Primary School
  • Swinnow Primary School

Great news for Leeds.

Chris

My colleague Rebecca Suaznabar one of our School Partnership Assistants sent me this...

"Hi Chris, I wanted to let you know about some really good practice taking place in the Inner North West family of schools. On Monday 17 November nine schools took part in a joint family training day. This took place in three different venues with national speakers and the BEST team leading sessions. 181 members of staff took part and the total cost to each school was just £313. The day was a great success and a really cost effective way of delivering high quality training to staff! Kind Regards, Rebecca."

It's great to hear about schools working together to deliver brilliant things.
Chris
I went to yet another STEPS celebration event this morning at Hollybush Primary School...

Hollybush is a wonderful building and with it's SILC base and Children's Centre is surely the future for primary education. It's a place where colleagues are doing great things while they wait for Danny Kenny, their new headteacher, to take up post after Christmas. The STEPS programmes here have been one of the real successes and some really wonderful women have had their lives changed by STEPS including four of the award winners at the recent Big STEPS event:
  • Rachel Wood who won the Education Leeds Award;
  • Jill Allen who won the Learning Communities Award;
  • Anna Travers who won the Extended Services Award;
  • Sarah Berry who won the FAST Team Facilitator of the Year Award.
I was really sorry that this was Dawn's last STEPS programme at Hollybush because the Bramley Sure Start funding has finished. Happily she is moving to Meanwood and I hope she will take the STEPS magic with her. I hope that we will get some photos of another brilliant celebration.
Chris
I received these fantastic photos of the Big STEPS event last night...











Brilliant photos of talented, gorgeous, brilliant and wonderful women who have through STEPS changed their own lives and the lives of others.
Chris
















Thursday, 20 November 2008

This afternoon I visited St Peter's CE Primary School to see Liz Holiday, the new headteacher...

This is an outstanding little school releasing a very special kind of magic at the heart of Leeds. I also met Helen who is passionate about an amazing project funded by the Helen Hamlyn Foundation. The school has been involved in the growit, cookit, filmit, askit project for the last three years. The project is supported by the Royal Horticultural Society and the children and colleagues at St Peter's have grasped the opportunities in growit, cookit, filmit, askit big time and the project appears to be going from strength to strength...FANTASTIC!

If you want to find out more about 'growit, cookit, filmit, askit' visit their website at http://openfuture.org.uk/.
Chris
I started the day at a breakfast meeting with the Morley FOS headteachers at the Manor Golf Club in Drighlington...



It was a really interesting, stimulating and really enjoyable couple of hours with some talented headteacher colleagues who are working together as a cluster to address behavioural issues, induction and extended services. They are also interested in developing a middle leaders programme to develop the next generation of headteachers.
Chris
I received an e-mail today from my colleague Inari Salonen, Leading Educational Consultant for the City of Helsinki's Education Department, who visited us recently from Helsinki...

"Dear Chris, Thank you for all the time and energy that you spent during my visit in Leeds last week. I really felt extremely welcome there and learned a lot about education and childrens' services in your nice city. Even if our societies are different, there are many similarities in how we both try to make our best for children and education. Of course I found many new things, like how you arrenge services or staff development, also the volumes and resources you have. It was also interesting to look at many practical situations and see your professional ways of working. For instance I admire your meetings, where you are all involved and there are no outsiders in the groups. It was also good to see both informal and formal meetings. I want to give my special thanks to Allyn, who made the programme, and such a good one. Thank you.

The school visits were great. As always I started to long for the school work! Wonderful children and teachers and other adults working there. I met many kind and interesting people in the big sessions. The smaller scale dicussions about your developmental issues - technology in schools, head teachers’ brilliant learning, brilliant leadership etc. - were something to take with me and talk with people here. I’m sure we have a lot to reflect together. It is possible to find correct canals from one culture to everyone’s own culture.

The best of the visit were people, all of you in Education Leeds. I thank you all very much. I’d be happy to see you here in Helsinki and hear from you in our common projects. Please give my regards to everyone, who made my visit so nice and perfect. Best wishes, Inari"

We really enjoyed having Inari here in Leeds and I look forward to seeing colleagues visit Helsinki next year.

Chris

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

I was reminded today why I was bowled over by my visit to Stockholm and the kunskkapsskolan schools with colleagues leading the first phase of BSF schools...

At the heart of the kunskapsskolan model is goal setting and personal tutoring which allows students to use the teachers, teaching spaces, time, the online curriculum and ICT systems to develop ownership, responsibility and excellence.

The powerful element that we still need to develop here in Leeds is the curriculum model which has two elements... STEPS and COURSES. English, mathematics and modern foreign language are delivered through 35 progressive learning STEPS which students work through at their own pace independent of age and sit examinations when they feel they are ready. COURSES are the way other subjects are delivered through six week modules differentited by outcome at three levels. The student and their personal tutor agree the level of difficulty and the student again sits appropriate examinations when they feel they are ready.

The curriulum is delivered through a school timetable which contains lectures, lessons, workshopd

and seminars. The student with their personal tutor puts together their own student timetable and agrees how they will use their them to achieve their goals. Students earn autonomy and freedom as they develop their skills, knoledge and understanding. The school buildings utilise old and redundant buildings at an average cost of around on million pounds for a group of 500 students and the focus is on developing wonderfully creative spaces inside the buildings using study rooms, lecture theatres, group areas, quiet areas, computer pods and cafes.

The system is underpinned by a knowledge portal, the kunsk@psporten, which contains curriculum materials, tools to support mentoring and assessment, reporting to parents and carers and is accessible from home and by parents and carers. Teachers become coaches and mentors still using their subject knowledge but supporting learning across subjects. They engage in collaborative development of pedagogy and learning materials. They also have increased contact time with their students.

A lot of the kunskapsskolan model is already here in schools like Pudsey Grangefield but we need to develop the portal so that anywhere, anytime learning becomes a reality in Leeds.
Chris
I attended the ADCS, Aspect and RM 'Shaping Schools for the Future' Conference today in Stratford upon Avon...

The Conference was chaired by Sir Mike Tomlinson and provded an opportunity for a select group of colleagues to look at some of the lessons learned from those authorities already involved in BSF programmes. John Chowat from Aspect talked about the implications of ongoing Children's Services workforce reform and Richard Stiff, Deputy Chief Executive and DCS in North Lincolnshire talked about the corporate approach to BSF. I delivered a presentation on Building Brilliant: unleasing potential and magic!

The afternoon session was delivered by Steve Bolingbroke, who now works for Kunskapsskolan, delivering the Swedish model through the Academies programme here in the UK. The session was a brilliant reminder of what we saw when colleagues from Leeds visited Stockholm and one the Kundskapsskolan schools two years ago.

Chris